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ID NEWS: USF can't comment during investigation, says spokesperson

U.S. Foodservice (USF), Columbia, MD, has declined to respond to media speculation concerning the national broadliner and its CEO, Jim Miller. "Because of the ongoing investigation, the company cannot comment on any rumors, including that of Jim Miller buying back the company from Ahold," according to a spokesperson.

The $17.5-billion, Columbia, MD-based distributor has been embroiled in highly publicized difficulties resulting from irregularities discovered in accounting of promo monies. More than $500 million in bookings over a two-year period are involved. As a result, USF parent Royal Ahold, Zaandam, The Netherlands, says it will have to restate earnings. This and other unrelated issues have caused Ahold stock to plummet.

Ahold's stock plunge has prompted the international grocer and distributor giant to assure the market it is not heading for bankruptcy or take-over, according to the latest Dow Jones report. "I don't believe a takeover is the only means of rescuing Ahold," said Henny de Ruiter, chairman of Ahold's supervisor board, on Dutch TV.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has reported that White & Case, a New York law firm hired by Ahold, is investigating how supplier rebates were booked by USF. One of the relationships said to be under scrutiny involves Seafood Marketing Specialists, Inc., a Rhode Island supplier of Harbor Banks and Maritime Select brands to USF.

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